NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University President Richard McCormick called an end to the decades-long tradition of Rutgersfest after the weekend events were followed by a string of disturbances and shootings.
“With regret for the loss of a long-standing Rutgers tradition, and with admiration for the students who worked hard to plan and run the concert this year, I have decided that the university can no longer continue to hold Rutgersfest,” McCormick wrote in a letter to the university community dated Tuesday, April 19.
Four people were shot, one assaulted and 11 arrested on disorderly persons charges following a day of games and concerts at Yurcak Field on the Busch campus attended by more than 40,000 people on Friday, April 15.
Authorities said crowds poured across the Raritan River into New Brunswick to continue the revelry after the festival ended, sparking repeated incidents of melees, fights and shootings between midnight and 4 a.m., Saturday.
McCormick noted that the university worked with city police in planning the event to beef up security. “However, even this additional police presence did not contain the disorder that occurred Friday night and early Saturday morning.
“Many streets were congested with people and there were multiple reports of disruptive conduct. Near the College Avenue campus there were many rowdy student house parties, incidents of public intoxication, littering, and vandalism, and several altercations among students and other individuals,” he said.
“Most disturbing to report, four non-Rutgers people were shot in three incidents during the course of the evening. The fact that none of these shootings resulted in life-threatening injuries does not diminish their violence, and I am gravely concerned about the danger to our students and our neighbors,” the university president said.
City Police Director Peter Mangarella supported the decision. “I respect President McCormick’s decision. I think it was the right decision,” he said.
“The last few years it was getting worse and worse,” he said of the disturbances that followed the festivities. “Last year was pretty bad. This year was worse.”